For Tech-Savvy Children, How Much Is Too Much?
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Health and Wellness

For Tech-Savvy Children, How Much Is Too Much?

Is screen usage causing more issues in our children then we think?

For Tech-Savvy Children, How Much Is Too Much?

Today we have at least one electronic device, whether it is a phone, iPad, TV, or game console. Walking around town I surveyed my surroundings and found that those in a group still have the tendency to be on their phone Ssnapchatting, tweeting, Facebooking, or watching videos or even if they are walking alone they are looking down at their phones not watching where they are going. Parents do not think anything of it when they see their children watching cartoons off an iPad while they eat their snack, but to me, I wonder how this impacts the children at such a young age.

As the years continue the number of children who start to watch and use these devices have become younger and younger. It has been estimated that 66% of children under the age of two years old have watched television, according to Dr. Brent Conrad a Clinical Psychologist for TechAddiction. With children becoming influenced by others to handle technology, there have been studies that show how screen time affects children's developmental stages, such as the psychological and clinical development.

As our children start to become older there are more factors that influence their behaviors and thought processes. In a study published by Science Magazine, the researchers Jeffrey Johnson, Patricia Cohen, Elizabeth Smailes, Stephanie Kasen, and Judith Brook, found that those who watch more TV have been linked to having aggressive behaviors.

Children around the ages 16-22 years old who live in a rough area, were neglected, and or the family had low income or little to no education, played a significant factor in the child's time spent watching or playing on the TV as well as increasing the aggressive behaviors. (Johnson et al. 2, p.7) This means, that those of an older age tend to be influenced more based on their demographics and personal experiences that can influence what they watch on TV as well as for how long.

When it comes to a child's Psychological and Clinical effects, there have been studies that have found negative impacts on the child's development. The Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health researched the clinical and psychological effects that excessive screen time can have on children, and found that children who have more screen time such as watching tv, playing video games etc., have been associated with lower physical strength which is said to be found in children under 6-years of age. (Montanari 6-9, Edelson et al 10).

This being, a child who plays a game using a controller much of the time they are home they would have a lower physical strength when it comes to doing fitness testing like pushups, and pull-ups the child may not be able to complete it. In elementary school every so often we had to do fitness testing. The fitness testing included push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, pacers, and sit and reach. When it came time to do push-ups some of the kids who were active video game players at home could barely do a push-up whereas those who did participate in soccer, football, or basketball were able to get more than one push-up or last longer when it came to completing the pacer test.

In addition to having the lower physical strength, children aged 2-4 years who receive more than 2 hours of TV time a day were found to be more likely to be obese found in Obesity Research & Clinical Practice (9: 636-638) Children who spend more than 2 hours on a screen start to become used to using the screen and watching TV that they do not acquire the proper amount of physical exercise which results in them slowly gaining weight while they might not realize it. Those who may look a little heavier or "chubby" as we call some babies, could be correlated with many other factors but one of the biggest factors is the amount of screen time usage they receive when they go home.

Screen usage has also been found to affect children of the ages 2-6 years when it comes to their sleep schedule. (Montanari 334). Those who are older, seem to have an increased effect on lack of sleep/efficiency. A lot of people look at a screen right before bed which causes the brain to process what it is seeing, consequently, the brain is no longer in a relaxed state to help ease into falling asleep. The brain is working overtime to catch up with what the child is watching and seeing that it keeps the child up longer resulting in the child having trouble falling asleep.In addition to a child's Physiological Development, their psychological development is also important.

A child’s psychological development refers to the child’s development over the course of their lifetime. Studies show that those of a younger age will have a language delay based on the total time they spend watching TV, besides a language delay there can also be a decrease in the amount of classroom engagement along with vocabulary and number understandings. (Montanari 335). Those who rely more on a device to communicate start to show signs of not being able to give speeches, or develop social anxiety when it comes to being in crowds of people due to relying on a device to communicate with others. Take a classroom setting for example. When an instructor informs the class that they need to do an oral presentation the class may moan and start to worry. Some may worry a lot more than others due to the sole fact that they do not know how to interact with the audience when giving a speech due to the lack of face to face interaction. Additionally, they rely more on the flashcards or PowerPoints to help assist them with their speech. All of which could be avoided but limiting the amount of screen time they use to communicate with others.

The more TV or screen time the child has, the more likely they could become depressed, as well as potentially lacking in facial interaction skills. As well as children becoming more depressed, it was also found that screen time in adolescents has been correlated with mental health, academic achievement, school disconnectedness, and self-esteem. Children spend more time on popular social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. They start to feed into the negativity that goes around on the internet and isolate themselves if the negative comments or any negativity is happening towards them. Once isolation starts to happen the child, then loses the social interaction they once had and start to show signs of depression, as well as social anxiety when going out in public due to the impact the negative comments has on them. There have been recommendations for how a proper amount of screen time can help limit the negatives that take place along with screen time.

To ensure that children receive the proper amount of screen time the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Policy Statement, recommends that children under 2-years of age should not spend time on electronic media/devices. (Volume 128: Issue 5) With this, it has been studied that this typically is not the case with parents who have children. As part of a parent’s job, they are to watch out for their child's well-being, as well as development. To ensure that their children grow up to live a healthy lifestyle, they need to make sure they monitor the time they allow their child to spend on a screen. Moreover, parents can simply put timers on their TV, lock certain shows that may influence their child's behavior, create rules for their children to follow when to comes to technology.

An example for this is during meal times and homework times make it a screen-free zone. Bedtime is a beneficial way to teach your children to not charge their devices in their rooms. If they charge their phones, iPads etc. in their rooms they may be tempted to go on them. If parents make them charge their devices outside of their bedroom it will limit the amount of dependability the child may have on the device. Other ways parents can help monitor their children's screen time, is not allow screens in the child's bedroom, as well as simply eliminating the amount of screen time the parent has as well. If their children understand how the parent is not watching tv as much the children will often follow their lead. Children look up to the adults. By starting to show the children that their health is more important than a screen the less developmental issues we would see.

Even though screen time can have negative effects on a child's developmental stages, research also suggests that screen time can have some positive impact on children. With being able to have access to online resources simply with a touch of a button, it has been able to allow schools to use laptops and or iPads in the classrooms to help assist in learning and teaching for students. With personal experience, in elementary school, certain grades can have iPads, and Chromebooks to help them with creating school projects. The students could learn how to use different software's to create their own short movies, video clips using toys, as well as learning how to create objects that could be printed in 3D.

The children in the school seemed to have a better understanding when it came to using measurements, mathematical skills, and speaking skills. In the classroom, the teachers had interactive games for the students to participate in to help them monitor what they know and need to learn. Downfall with this, is that the students were used to using the electronic devices to communicate with their classmates through chat room apps like google hangouts, and when put in a situation where a device was not to be used and they were required to communicate with their classmates it seemed they were unsure how to act and approach other students. This then goes back to the whole social interaction issues that using a device can have on a child's developmental needs.

To create change, we need to start in the homes. Once screen time is cut down in homes, we can start to observe others follow suit and limit screen time usage as well. If we do not start to monitor what our children are doing and how much time they spend on a screen we can start to notice our children lack in social interaction skills, as well as become more aggressive. A child's developmental stages are largely influenced in the early ages of life. This means, that by letting your child watch a show during their first few years, they can start to develop at a slower rate than those who would not have been exposed to a screen for more than an hour a day. Although we see more of the positives screen time can have on the younger generation, such as better mathematic skills, creative skills, and communication online there are still negative effects that people need to be more aware of. Overall, it is up to anyone who is seen as a leader to start to create the change that will soon create change in the coming generations.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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